‘Twisted Willow’ seeks to liberate gambling from its moral overtones and define its place in liberated economy

In its first step towards aiding the public in making informed judgements on issues of public importance, The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy released ‘Twisted Willow,’ a document on gambling, sport and cricket in India, here on Thursday.

The document, put together by a three-member team, attempts to liberate gambling from its moral overtones and define its place in a liberated economy, besides talking of regulatory measures in other nations. It provides value addition to the raging public debate on betting in sports, especially in the context of spot- and match-fixing allegations in the recently concluded Indian Premier League.

N. Ram, member of the Board of Management of the Centre and former Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu Group of publications, complimented the authors on providing an insight into gambling and having a deep look at outdated legal frameworks for betting and gambling.

He said the recommendations of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) for regulating betting would not be an answer to prevent corruption, twisting rules of the game and inside trading. He saw a prima facie case for termination from the IPL of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for their violation of the provisions of the franchisee document.

Hailing the release of the document as a milestone, the Centre’s Director, Malini Parthasarathy, said the launch of the publication — Issue Brief No. 1 — was part of the organisation’s commitment to make citizens aware of their rights.

The document, in four sections, analyses the core issues such as moral greyness of gambling, legal framework, sports betting in India, measures taken by the International Cricket Council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India to prevent betting and regulation of gambling in other countries.

Explaining how the Brief aimed at highlighting the moral greyness surrounding gambling and distinguishing it from other crimes and vices, Rajgopal Saikumar, lead author of the document and Public Policy Scholar at The Hindu Centre, referred to need for factoring into policy-making on sports and cricket gambling the emerging reality of sports. The greyness attached to gambling, he said, opened up other questions like the role of the state and the individual’s “right to do wrong.”

Abishek Mukherjee, The Hindu Centre’s Digital Content Coordinator, explained how existing laws were unable to curb gambling and betting.

Harsimran Kalra, Public Policy Scholar, stressed need for policymakers to conduct a thorough study, organise public consultations and solicit public opinion before deciding between deterrence against, and regulation of, gambling or betting.

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